Over the years, I’ve learned that Spaghetti is not Spaghetti, is not Spaghetti.  The rich, and wonderful tomato sauce that my mom made us growing up, is closest to a Bolognese sauce.  On the much lighter, faster, and easier to cook end of the spectrum is a Pomodoro sauce.  Pomodoro is meant to be a fast and easy tomato sauce with a relatively few, fresh ingredients.  This recipe has the benefit of only taking about an hour to make, it's great tossed with all kinds of pasta, and even as a sauce for chicken, fish or veggies.  Enjoy it!

spaghetti pomodoro Recipe Overview & Keys to Success

To make the best Spaghetti Pomodoro, just make sure to do the following:

  1. As with any pasta dish, make sure to cook the spaghetti al dente.  I like to start tasting the pasta about 2 minutes before the package suggests, and remove when perfect
  2. Use whole plum tomatoes that you lightly crush by hand. That gives the sauce a nice chunky texture
  3. Make sure to use fresh basil, nothing out of a jar
  4. Taste and season as you go.  Salt and pepper most importantly.  But you may want to add a pinch of sugar at the end if you find the sauce is too bitter or acidic

Ingredients (sauce for 8 – 9 servings)

  • 1/4 lbs of spaghetti per person
  • 2 32 ounce can of whole roma (plum) tomatoes
  • 1 bunch fresh basil
  • 1 medium onion
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 – 3 tablespoons Sugar (optional)

Recipe for Spaghetti Pomodoro

  • Start by making the Pomodoro sauce
  • Dice the onion and the garlic 
  • Heat a pot or high sided sauté pan over medium heat and coat the bottom with olive oil
  • Add the onion and garlic to the pan and season with salt and pepper
  • Stir occasionally and allow to sauté until the onion becomes translucent
  • While the onions sauté, empty the tomatoes into a bowl, and crush them with your hands, breaking up the tomatoes into smaller pieces
  • Once the onions are cooked, add the tomatoes to the pan, and stir everything together; season again with salt and pepper
  • Coarsely chop the basil leaves (1/4 - 1/2 cup), and add to the tomatoes, again stirring together
  • Cover and cook for 30 minutes to an hour
  • If you find the sauce too thin, uncover and continue to simmer, which will reduce and thicken the sauce.  To thick, you can add some water.
  • Once the sauce is done, bring a large pot of water to the boil and salt the water liberally
  • Drop the spaghetti, and stir every couple minutes to prevent sticking
  • Taste the spaghetti a couple minutes before the package directions, and remove once it’s al dente, reserving some of the pasta water in a separate bowl
  • Transfer some of the pomodoro sauce into another sauté pan, over high heat
  • Add the cooked spaghetti, tossing it together with the sauce for 3 – 4 minutes
  • Turn off the heat and drizzle some additional olive oil and parmesan cheese over the top
  • Stir together, taste and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper.  If it’s too thick, add some of the reserved pasta water.

Wine Recommendation

Spaghetti Pomodoro is a perfect combination of tomato and basil, a classic Italian combination, and I recommend a classic Italian Wine – Chianti.   Food and wine that come from the same regions frequently go really well together and that is certainly the case here.  No need to spend a bundle either…a simple Chianti will do very nicely.

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